Discussion on the topic
The preparation booklet includes 9 texts that you can use as inspiration to explore the topic of winning and losing in English-speaking countries and complete your assignments. In what follows, we will give you some ideas for the discussion of the topic and we will outline each of the texts so that you can get an overview of the topic.
The discussion revolves around winning and losing in English-speaking countries. According to your preparation material, the meaning of winning or losing can have different interpretations. Sometimes, losing can turn into a success thanks to new opportunities or a change in expectations. Other times, winning might not be as rewarding as one thinks.
In English-speaking countries, society mostly values competition instead of cooperation. This is noticeable in most areas of life, including sports, education, or politics. At the same time, English-speaking societies are also very diverse regarding cultural and social aspects.
A competitive culture has both advantages and disadvantages. Competition can motivate people, but it can also lead to conflicts. That is why one of the challenges in these societies is to find a balance between competition and cooperation.
Text 1: “How to apply for an apprenticeship”
Text 1 is an adapted version of the article “How to apply for an apprenticeship” by Andrew Fennel.
The author describes an apprenticeship as learning a trade while being paid. He argues that an apprenticeship offers important work experience, but that to get such a position, candidates should know how to promote themselves to potential employers. Fennel considers the key factors for getting an apprenticeship to be qualifications, skills, career ambitions, and experience.
The text also includes a picture with key words such as: vocational education, qualifications, tutorials, e-learning, career development, jobs, practical apprenticeship, employment, talents, vocation, etc.
Text 2: Vocational education’s global gap
Text 2 is titled “Vocational education’s global gap” and explores the issue of career and education choices in various countries. The text argues that while most people think vocational education is important, academic education still has a higher status in society.
However, there is an increasing need for vocational education because of youth unemployment and a lack of skilled workers in the job market in many countries. A 2015 report confirms this, as well as the fact that people tend to see vocational education as less valuable than academic education.
In India, the work force will increase by 32% in the next 20 years, leading to many young people needing jobs. However, only 2.3% of the workforce currently has a formal vocational education. This suggests that to maintain economic growth, India will have to invest more in vocational education. This is challenging because many parents are university-focused when it comes to their children’s education.
In South Africa, the unemployment rate among young people is 54%, while businesses complain about the shortage of skilled workers. The authorities plan to create 2.5 million spots in vocational colleges over the next 20 years. However, the report argues that there is a mismatch between the skills people are trained in and what skills are actually needed on the job market.
In the UK, there is a plan to recognise vocational education and create 3 million apprenticeships. However, right now very few young Britons are studying vocational subjects at an international standard.
The CEO of the City and Guilds Group which issued the reports argues that people need to change their prejudices about vocational education and to start promoting it, if countries want to have competitive economies.
The text includes two images. The first image is that of two hands holding a message shaped like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that says ‘vocational’. In the background, the word ‘training’ is repeated. The second image shows a group of skilled workers depicted as colourful individuals. Above them is an assembly line of students sitting at desks, who are depicted in black and white and look almost identical.
Text 3: Pictures: “Winning and losing”
Text 3 includes various pictures showing aspects of winning and losing in English-speaking countries.
The first picture shows Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton with the caption “Here are 2016’s most famous winner and loser.” Trump and Clinton ran for US President in 2016, with Trump winning the elections despite most predictions suggesting that Trump had a low chance of succeeding.
The second picture shows two men wearing football shirts with the English flag painted on their faces, looking disappointed. The caption reads “England fans downbeat after loss.” The picture was presumably taken at a football game in which the England team failed to win.
The third picture shows eight athletes with disabilities looking professional and proud. The caption reads: “Paralympians have helped to change our definition of winning and losing by achieving excellence in their chosen sport.” The picture suggests that disabled athletes are able to achieve the highest standards in sport, just like able-bodied athletes.
The fourth picture shows New Zealand’s national women’s rugby team celebrating victory through a traditional dance. The caption reads: “The Black Ferns of New Zealand, celebrating winning the 2017 Women’s World Rugby Cup, by performing a traditional Haka, a Maori war dance.”
The fifth picture shows golfers who are playing despite the fact that a forest behind them is on fire. The picture was taken in 2017 at the Beacon Rock Golf Course in the state of Washington. The caption reads: “These golfers are determined to find out who will win their game of golf. Forest fires worsened by climate change mean that we all may be on the losing side.” The text raises awareness about climate change and people’s indifference to it.
The sixth picture shows an expensive car and a man in an improvised bicycle cart at a set of traffic lights. The caption reads: “Rich and poor exist side-by-side in cities all over the English-speaking world.” The picture is intended to raise awareness about income gaps in English-speaking societies.
Text 4: Being bullied over ginger hair made me, says Ed Sheeran: Award-winning musician talks of name-calling at school
Text 4 is an adaptation of an article by Laura Cox. The material focuses on musician Ed Sheeran who was bullied in school because he wore glasses, and had a stutter and ginger hair. Recalling these aspects of his life, the musician thinks they are what contributed to him becoming famous. He thinks he outgrew his background.
At the same time, having ginger hair now works to his advantage because it makes his audience more likely to remember him. Sheeran also recalls seeing his childhood bullies again later in life. When he looks at them, he thinks they have not achieved anything great in life.
Ed Sheeran is now a well-known musician in the English-speaking world, collaborating with famous artists and winning awards for his music.
The text includes two pictures of Ed Sheeran, one of him as a child wearing glasses and one of him performing on stage with his guitar.
Text 5: Edited transcript of sportscaster Dale Hansen on the anthem protests in the NFL (National Football League)
Text 5 is an edited transcript of sportscaster Dale Hansen on the anthem protests in the NFL (National Football League).
Dale Hansen describes how when NFL player Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem as an act of protest. However, the incident turned into a scandal when President Donald Trump got involved and made offensive remarks about other players who did the same.
Hansen argues that the fact that Donald Trump claimed he did not support these types of protest shows that he is biased. He makes analogies with what would have happened if similar protests had not taken place during the civil rights movement.
Hansen claims that NFL players’ protests are not a sign of disrespect, but a way to draw attention to how African Americans are discriminated against in US society.
Hansen mentions white Americans hanging Nazi flags or Confederate flags as being an issue of greater concern than the NFL players’ protests, despite Trump’s single-minded focus on the latter. He also mentions that Americans use the national flag in many circumstances that might suggest disrespect. Hansen ends by reminding people that the US Constitution grants everyone freedom of speech, but that it does not compel anyone to stand during the national anthem.
Text 6: Donald Trump’s remarks about NFL (National Football League) players taking a knee
Text 6 conveys some of Donald Trump’s remarks about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem as a sign of protest. Trump argues that NFL owners should take players who kneel out of the field and fire them because they disrespect the American flag. He argues that owners who would do that would become the most popular in the country.
Trump argues that NFL ratings are down because everyone is more interested in Donald Trump, and also that the game is getting less interesting, because the rules are more restrictive. He claims the protests are damaging to NFL ratings. He also argues that the way to stop the protests is for viewers to walk out of the stadium if they see a player kneeling during the national anthem.
Text 7: Advertisements
Text 7 includes two advertisements. The first one shows a registered nurse named Sally. The main message reads: “We can hold a life in our hands, but we can’t ask for our partner’s hand.” Below it is also written: “We’re doing our jobs. Tell our politicians to do theirs at equalitycampaign.org.au.” The final message is “Marriage equality. It’s only fair.”, next to a map of Australia with the rainbow flag and the word “equality”.
The advertisement is part of a gay rights campaign from 2017 advocating for gay marriage to become legal in Australia. Same-sex marriage was approved in Australia in December 2017. The law was passed after a postal survey showed that over 66% of Australians support same-sex marriage.
The second advertisement informs the public that companies Paddy Power and Stonewall have sent a pair of rainbow laces to professional football players for the players to show the world their support for gay players. The ad encourages players not to discriminate against co-players because of their sexual orientation and to openly support them as teammates. The advertisement is from a 2015 campaign targeting homophobia in the UK.
Text 8: Instagram, sex and mental health; winners and losers in the age of the hashtag
Text 8 begins by describing how American high school movies since the 1970s have influenced ideas about success and failure in high school, although real life is more complex. Now, typical ideas about how people should look and act are being challenged by social media and mass media.
While social media can have a negative impact on people’s self-esteem, it can also be a platform for making more voices heard. The article gives examples of Instagram accounts that challenge mainstream ideas about being fit and healthy, or which mock celebrity posing.
The text gives the example of Tasmanian comedian Luke McGregor. He stars in a documentary series about sex, making the topic less taboo and opening up people to the topic by talking about his own anxieties and frustrations.
McGregor also openly admits that he sometimes feels confused, which is not surprising given that many Australian men struggle with depression. Australia also has a very high suicide rate among men. This is why charity organisations try to change the dominant macho culture which makes men feel they cannot express their feelings.
The text ends by arguing that social media can create winners. They are people who challenge traditional norms of identity and behaviour and move society forward.
Text 9: Excerpt from the novel Divergent
Text 9 is an excerpt from the dystopian novel Divergent by Veronika Roth. The text explores themes like courage and bullying.
The characters in the excerpt are being trained to throw knives. The strongest of them, Al, is the only one who is still unable to hit his target.
Eric, the leader of the group, begins to scold and shame Al for being unable to hit his target. When he fails again, Eric continues to mock Al and sends him to collect his knife while the other keep throwing at the board. Al is afraid he will get hurt by the knives being thrown. Even though he usually obeys Eric, Al refuses this time.
Eric clears the ring and makes Al stand close to the board, asking trainer Four to throw knives at him. But Four challenges Eric, arguing that it is not necessary. The narrator Tris also asks Eric to stop bullying Al, and she ends up taking Al’s place at the board. Tris is told that she cannot flinch, or Al will have to take her place. Four starts throwing knives at the board, each time closer to Tris. Eventually, the last knife touches the girl’s ear. Since she did not flinch, Eric is satisfied and leaves, saying he will keep his eye on her.
Answer either 1A or 1B
You have just discovered that there are plans to shut down your education programme at your school.
Create a text that could be used to inspire students to protest against these plans, explaining why shutting down the programme is a bad idea.
Write a short text in which you explain the messages of the two advertisements in text 7 in the preparation material.
Compare how language and visual elements are used in the two advertisements to communicate their message.
The following tasks are based on your preparation topic “Winning and losing in the English-speaking world”.
Answer either 2A, 2B, 2C, or 2D.
Texts 5 and 6 in the preparation material provide two opposing views about recent events in the USA. Dale Hansen defends NFL players’ right to “take a knee” during the national anthem, while President Trump criticises them for doing this.
Create a text in which you discuss the texts.
· explain the issues raised
· discuss the views expressed in the texts
· compare the language of the texts
Give your text a suitable title.
A company in the UK is offering apprenticeships or traineeships to young people from Scandinavia. They have apprenticeships and traineeships in every vocational area. There will be a lot of competition for the positions so you will have to sell yourself well to win the company over.
Create a text that could win you one of these apprenticeships or traineeships.
You should include information about:
· which traineeship or apprenticeship you are aiming for
· how your education and training have prepared you for an apprenticeship/traineeship
· situations during your work placement that have given you valuable experience
· why you are the best person for the apprenticeship/traineeship
Give your text a suitable title.
You have studied cultural and social conditions affecting people in English-speaking countries during your course and while working with the preparation material.
Create a text about one of these cultural or social conditions that you have studied and discuss who the winners and losers appear to be. You should refer to texts from the preparation material and/or sources that you have worked with during your course.
Give your text a suitable title.
In the extract from “Divergent” by Veronica Roth (text 9 in the preparation material) several characters compete for power and authority.
Create a text discussing the way these characters behave towards each other as they try to be winners in the extract you have read. Then compare these characters’ behaviour with the behaviour of the characters in another English-language text or film who are also struggling in a situation where winning is important.
Give your text a suitable title.